What's Up With Fall 2015? Comparing Wait Times In 2015 To Years Past

by Fred Hazelton, contributing writer

The end of November brings us not only the Thanksgiving holiday but also the unofficial end to the fall season at Disney theme parks. Fall 2015 has been a fall unlike any other that we at Touringplans.com have seen in terms of crowds at the parks and wait times at the attractions. With fall soon behind us this would be a good time to take a look at what happened. Were wait times really as high as people say they were? Was this year really that different?

Let's look at the average daily wait time at each property between September 1 and November 30. Each year, holidays like Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving can fall on different dates but this will give us a quick and easy look at what happened this year and how it compares to years past.

Walt Disney World Resort

The difference between what we saw this year and what we have seen historically is most notable at Walt Disney World. Virtually every day between September and November in 2015 had an average wait time higher than the historical average. There are some individual days in the past with averages higher than what we saw this year but the vast majority of the time the average in 2015 was the highest on record, especially in early September.

Walt Disney World wait times in fall 2015 are higher than the historical average. Graphic by Touringplans.com.

Disneyland Resort

At Disneyland Resort the trend is similar although not as distinct as what we saw at Walt Disney World. There were many more days at Disneyland this fall with wait times close to, or below the historical average. However, if you look closely you see that on most days the 2015 average was greater than the historical average and on many days the 2015 average was significantly higher than what we have seen in years past. Most notable for Disneyland were dates in early September and late October when the average wait time was much higher this year.

Disneyland wait times in fall 2015 are higher too but not as much as Disney World. Graphic by Touringplans.com.

Universal Studios Orlando

Meanwhile, at Universal Orlando the wait time averages in fall 2015 were comparable with what we have seen in years past. Granted, we have much less historical data to compare for Universal parks but the trend is interesting none-the-less. Not only have fall crowds at Universal been closer to historical averages in 2015 they have been much less crowded than the other resorts. On the Touringplans.com crowd calendar we have seen dozens of days this fall with crowd levels equal to '1' and '2' out of '10' at Universal parks but very few days reached crowd levels this low at Disney parks.

Universal Orlando wait times are about the same this fall. Graphic by Touringplans.com.

Thanksgiving crowds at Disney's Resorts are substantial. We will be watching closely to see how crowds at the parks this Thanksgiving compare to what we have seen in years past. Will we see new records this year as we have seen all fall or will the Thanksgiving rush be the same? What is clear is that if you want to avoid crowded theme parks this fall you might be most thankful if you choose& Universal.




    Spent a week at Walt Disney World from November 6th thru the 10th. I have gone many times before including this time period. I could not believe how crowded every park was. I was expecting crowds in EPCOT because of the winding down of the Food and Wine. But every park we went to seemed wall-to-wall people. I had planned this trip for over a year to take my family to help celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Those in the group who hadn't been in a while were very disheartened. We had everything planned out - dining, fastpasses, events. However, by Disney making it almost mandatory that these be done so far in advance, it left no room to change plans. Having to cancel dining reservations at least 24 hours in advance makes it almost impossible to change your plans when you wake up. Eating at quick serve was almost impossible. If you missed getting to eat early because of fastpass reservations, you had to wait in long lines outside restaurants to even get in to order. One can only imagine how the new construction will further affect parks. As someone that has gone at least once a year for many years and who has a former cast member in the family (who by the way was also disappointed in the trip), we will be thinking very hard about when our next trip may be. Perhaps if there were a chance for spontaneity in a trip it would make things a lot easier. I just feel bad for the person who was down there for the first time and this would have been their first and perhaps only impression of the park.

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